This month sees the start of the new academic year and a re-engagement with face to face activities. Over the past couple of weeks, it has been great to see the magnificent UL campus burst into life with the return of staff and students both new and old.
It is really great to be back and have the opportunity for personal connection (socially distanced of course!), something we have all missed. Whilst there are many pedagogical and experiential learning benefits to be gained from blended delivery opportunities, face to face engagement is still a very important element of the student experience.
I would like to take this opportunity of welcoming our new cohort of undergraduate students starting in PESS. This year not only are we pleased to see our usual intake of first year Physical Education and Sport and Exercise Science students, but we also excited to welcome our first cohort of students on the new BSc in Exercise and Health Fitness Management which will be co-delivered in partnership with our colleagues in the National Council for Exercise and Fitness (NCEF). From a postgraduate standpoint, we welcome the latest cohort on the MSc in Applied Sports Coaching but also we are delighted greet the first candidates on the New Professional Doctorate in Human Performance and Innovation, not to mention a number of new PhD students.
Aside from the arrival of new students, I am also delighted to welcome a number of new staff to PESS. I would like to formally welcome the following staff who have recently joined PESS:
New Faculty Appointments:
Dr Laura-Anne Furlong – SL in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics
Laura-Anne graduated with a first class honours from the BSc in Sport and Exercise Science programme in PESS. She then stayed on in PESS and completed her PhD in Biomechanics under the supervision of Prof Drew Harrison. For the past 6 years, Laura-Anne has worked as a senior lecturer in Biomechanics at the Loughborough University widely recognised as one of the leading SES Universities in the UK. The quality and relevance of her research was acknowledged internationally by receipt of the Hans Gros Emerging Researcher Award from the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports in 2019 for excellence in early career research 2-5 years post-PhD (first female recipient), and as well as being named as the youngest fellow of the society the same year for her contributions to sports biomechanics.
Dr Brendan O’Keeffe – Lbb in Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE)
Brendan graduated top of his class with a first class honours from the BSc in Physical Education programme in PESS receiving the Faculty of Education and Health Sciences Academic Achievement Medal for highest overall QCA among graduates. Upon graduation, he worked as a PE teacher at Glenstal Abbey School for 2 years before being awarded an IRC Postgraduate Scholarship and returned to PESS to complete a PhD under the supervision of Prof Alan Donnelly and Dr Ciaran MacDonncha. Prior to taking up his current post Brendan worked as a lecturer in Physical Education and Health in the in the School of Health and Human Performance at DCU. For over 5 years Brendan has also been an executive board member of the Physical Education Association of Ireland and is currently the Executive Treasurer.
Dr Rob Davies – Lbb Sport and Exercise Physiology
Rob graduated with a first class honours from the BSc in Sports Science and also completed an MRes in Exercise Physiology both at Bangor University. He then completed a PhD in PESS in the area of skeletal muscle physiology and nutrition under the supervision of Prof Phil Jakeman and Dr Brian Carson where he also worked as a research assistant on a research project funded by Food for Health Ireland (FHI). On completing his PhD Rob was appointed as a Post-doctoral researcher in PESS before taking on a temporary role as an Lbb in Exercise Physiology. Rob is also a member of the PESS Research Committee where he is the research theme lead in Food and Health.
Dr Frank Nugent – Lbb in Exercise and Health Fitness Management
Frank graduated with a BSc in Sports Science and Health from DCU. He then completed his PhD in Sport and Exercise Physiology in PESS supervised by Dr Tom Comyns and myself which was part–funded by National Aquatic Centre Swimming Academy where he worked as a Sports Scientist. Upon completing his PhD Frank worked as an assistant lecturer on the Sports Science programme in Athlone IT, before taking up a temporary lecturing appointment in PESS as an Lbb in biomechanics. Franks recent appointment is linked the establishment new BSc in Exercise and Health Fitness Management which is being delivered in partnership with our colleagues in the NCEF. This year Frank was the inaugural winner EHS research recognition award in the category of early career researcher.
Aside from his academic duties Frank is a UKSCA certified S&C coach and Performance Director of UL Rowing Club – Leading Club at 2021 National Rowing Champs winning 10 titles.
New Teaching Assistants:
I am also delighted to welcome 3 new teaching assistants to the PESS staff. Stephen Morton will principally supporting the delivery of the Sport and Excise Science programme, Aron O’Donnell will be involved in the delivery of both the Sport and Exercise Science and Physical Education programmes and Jason Wallace will be principally contributing to the delivery of the Physical Education programme.
Finally, I am delighted to announce that PESS was successful in its Athena Swan Bronze award re-application. PESS was the first Department in EHS to achieve the bronze award and now the first Department to achieve re-accreditation status. This is an enormous piece of work, which is of high strategic importance for PESS, EHS and UL and I would like to thank Elaine Murtagh as Chair and all the Self-Assessment Team (SAT) for all their hard work, dedication and commitment in preparing this application. The focus now turns to its successful implementation!
I wish you all the very best for the 2021-22 academic year.
Prof Giles Warrington is Head of Department, Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS) in the University of Limerick and Professor in Sport & Exercise Physiology . You can contact Giles on email firstname.lastname@example.org follow him on Twitter or view his profile on LinkedIn